I watched the video about the concept of "white savior movies". It mostly criticized and dismissed these films as not having much value, presenting characters in the films as "white saviors". I have mixed feelings about this as I know all those movies mentioned quite well, in fact I have used them many times as learning tools and discussion points in a class on Ethnic and Cultural Diversity that I teach at the local community college. I certainly get and agree with the concept that Hollywood movies have sometimes presented a white character as "the savior" of a black character (like in the movie Hidden Figures). However I don't think all those film mentioned did that or were terrible films by any means. In my classes I show my students a variety of movies: "Do the Right Thing", "The Long Walk Home", "Green Book", "The Visitor", "Gran Torino", "BlackKKKlansman", just to name a few. The Spike Lee movie "Do the Right Thing" is my all time favorite and I always show it to my classes and we discuss it at length. Spike Lee was way ahead of his time!
The movie "Green Book" about the brilliant black pianist Dr. Shirley (Mahershala Ali) going on tour in the deep south with his white driver "Tony Lip" (Viggo Mortensen) demonstrated many incidents of the racist treatment Dr. Shirley had to endure.... in the story the character of the driver Tony Lip formed a genuine friendship with Dr. Shirley and began to question some of his own prejudices in the film. (I was saddened to hear that the actual family of the real Dr. Shirley reported that there were many falsities in the film, that was really disappointing.... unfortunately I believe Hollywood does that a LOT with all kinds of "true stories", i.e. they embellish or fabricate parts of it to try to enhance the drama or dynamics of a character). However, the story of the two men forming a friendship and overcoming some obstacles of prejudice and racism in the film was a good one in my view. I did not think that the character of Dr. Shirley was shown primarily as someone being "saved" by the character of Tony Lip.... except perhaps in parts of the story where Tony was Dr. Shirley's body guard as well as his driver and came to his assistance in a few scenes and saved him from physical danger. One could however say that Dr. Shirley's character actually saved Tony Lip in certain ways, helping him to become more sensitive and thoughtful and less prejudiced (while also learning from Dr. Shirley how to speak English more properly!) I showed this film in my classes a few times, my students were primarily black and Latino, there were some white students in the class too. My students all LOVED this movie and we had lots of productive and constructive conversations about the film and the issues of racism within the story. When it came out that the movie had presented some aspects of Dr. Shirley's life that were untrue we discussed that as well. I believe that the story of the relationship between the two men (albeit it was part fiction) was what was most meaningful and did address many issues of racism.
The movie "Gran Torino" depicts the character of a cranky bitter old white man who is horribly prejudiced and racist and says all sorts of offensive things about people of color. He lives next to an Asian family who are Hmong. Although the character Walt (Clint Eastwood) is extremely prejudiced, he befriends a young Hmong woman Sue (Ahney Her) who lives next door and their friendship blossoms, and in so doing helps Walt to begin to learn new things about himself and shed at least some of his prejudiced ideas and beliefs. In the film he begins to develop more self awareness and starts to re-evaluate and dismiss some of his prejudicial feeling about his Hmong neighbors. Although he helps them to fight off a menacing gang, I don't believe the main tenor of this film was to try to present Walt as just some kind of "white savior". Similarly to the movie "Green Book", his character was in many ways actually saved by his young Hmong friend Sue who lived next door who helps him to deepen his awareness and broaden his horizons.
These movies are by no means perfect, but I think they all do have some value. It seemed to me like the video discussion about these films pretty much dismissed most of them as having little value, just trying to present characters who were in the role of "white saviors" or present racism as a thing of the past that is now behind us. I don't think that's true and it doesn't do them justice... I think there were some themes in these films that were more about overcoming prejudice and racism than they were trying to simply present an image of a "white savior". As the saying goes, "don't throw out the baby with the bath water".